Types of Sugar

Not all types of sugar are created equal. Information about various types of sugar and sugar substitutes can be found to the left under ‘Types of Sugar.’

So: what are the most important things you have to know about different sugars and sugar substitutes? 

Sweeteners are generally put into three categories: 

• Various types of naturally occuring sugar chains
• Sugar alcohols (sugar substitutes)
• Artificial sweeteners


The term ‘sugar’ is generally used synonymously with ‘refined sugar,’ but in the professional nutrition field, ‘sugar’ is the umbrella term for all types of sugar. The most common types of sugar are fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose (the main component of table sugar).

Sugar Alcohols (Sugar Substitutes)

Sugar alcohols occur naturally in certain types of fruit; cherries and plums, for example, exhibit a high concentration of sorbitol. These are sweet-tasting carbohydrates that, artificially manufactured, are often used as a substitute for household sugar, but also for other purposes, e.g. sorbitol as a humectant. The most common sugar substitutes are sorbitol (E 420), mannitol (E 421), isomalt (E 965) and xylitol (E967). All of these sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect on certain individuals.

Artificial Sweeteners

These are several sweeteners and sugar substitutes on the market that are chemically manufactured and commonly used, such as aspartame, acesulfame, saccharine, and cyclamate. In contrast to sugar substitutes, they are typically much sweeter than household sugar. Read more on our Artificial Sweeteners page.